5 Ways to Protect Your Eyes From Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer Vision Syndrome is an increasingly common malady in our computer age. Computer Vision Syndrome is a medical term for what we commonly know as computer eye strain. This syndrome is characterized by any of the following symptoms: headache, feeling of tiredness or pain in and around the eyes, blurring of vision, neck pain, shoulder pain and in some cases, lightheadedness or nausea.
A few months back, I began suffering from headache, dull pain around the eyes and slight nausea. Suspecting that I might be having a case of early-onset presbyopia (clue: presbyopia comes from the same word as presbytery which means “elderly”– which clues you in on my age, haha) I decided to have my eyes checked by an ophthalmologist. I was bracing myself for the news that I must wear those visual contraptions that I dread (read: eyeglasses) but strangely, my eyes were declared okay. After digging into my work history, the doctor told me that it was simply Computer Vision Syndrome or computer eye strain.
These are what my ophthalmologist told me to do in order to avoid Computer Vision Syndrome. I hope you would share this with your kids and friends.

1. Let there be enough light.
Too much glare or too dark light will cause Computer Vision Syndrome. Work with just enough light as would be comfortable for your eyes. Eliminate sources of glare by closing window curtains, or by adjusting your position or the position of your screen. Adjust the brightness setting of your monitor during the nighttime when glare is often more pronounced.

2. Observe proper sitting posture.
The right sitting posture ensures that your eyes are kept at an optimum distance from the screen and also helps to avoid various aches and pains in the shoulder, back or wrist. Enlarge this picture into a poster, print and post on your wall to remind you to observe the right sitting posture every time you work before a computer.

(Photo Credit: columbianeurosurgery.org)

(Note: I got this information not from my ophthalmologist but from columbianeurosurgery.org)

  • Your head and spine should be fairly straight and relaxed, with the arch of your low back supported by your chair. (Realization: I need a computer chair.)
  • Your eyes should be 2 to 4 feet away from the computer screen. (check)
  • Your elbow should be bent at more or less a 90-degree angle. (Oh, no.)
  • Your wrist should be in line with your elbow. (Na-ah.)
  • Your hips should be of the same level or slightly higher than your knees. (Aha, now I know why I have low back pain.)
  • Your feet should be flat on the floor.

3. Move more.
The major cause of Computer Vision Syndrome is staring too long at the computer. To give your eyes a break, look away from the screen more frequently. Get into the habit of frequently looking around and at various objects around the room (difficult if you’re reading something very engaging). You can also remind yourself to move your head from side to side, to stretch your arms and back or to stand up. Your boss won’t mind your doing these (I think) as they won’t take time much time off your work.

4. Take breaks while you work. 
My ophthalmologist advised me to take 2 to 3-minute breaks every 15 to 30 minutes. During the break, you need to move out of your chair and do any of the following:

  • Stare off into the distance. Go out of your room or office and look at far objects, preferably relaxing ones such as a distant mountain, a tree or the vast horizon. After staring at your monitor up close for half an hour, your eye muscles need to be able to “stretch” by looking at distant objects.
  • Close your eyes. Constant engagement of your eyes at close range is the primary cause of computer vision syndrome. Give your eyes a break by closing them for about 2 minutes. Gently massaging your eyes and temples also helps to soothe your eyes. Try it.
  • Give your eyes a workout. Blink your eyes repetitively to get rid of the dryness associate with long hours of computer work. Studies show that when you are engaged in computer work, you tend to blink less, which results in dry eyes and eye strain. Taking the time to blink will restore the normal moisture levels of the eyes.

5. Take one day off each week from computer work.
In addition to the break you take every after 30 minutes of continuous computer work, it is also advisable to take an entire day off each week from computer work. Taking a day-long sabbatical from computer work each week helps to avoid computer vision syndrome.


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